At RFCC, we work hard to make sure that small farmers are represented in Congress. We are so happy that Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) have reintroduced the bi-partisan PRIME Act in the House and Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have reintroduced it in the Senate! Read more here.
What does the PRIME Act do?
The PRIME Act (Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption) creates opportunities forlocal slaughterhouses to process meats from farms in-state and return that meat to farmers for them to sell. Currently, regulations require farmers to process meats at only USDA-inspected facilities if they want to sell their own meat.
Custom slaughterhouses are exempt from USDA inspection, but animal owners can only use that meat for personal use--they may not sell that meat even to friends, family, and neighbors. This means that people can buy a whole animal and then pay the processing costs themselves if they want the meat. But, not many Americans can afford to purchase an entire animal or have the space to store that much meat.
The PRIME Act expands on this exemption by allowing states to permit distribution of custom-slaughtered meats. Farmers would then be able to sell their "custom-slaughtered" meats to any customers, restaurants, etc within their state. This creates untold economic opportunity for local farmers and the local economies are enriched by small, custom slaughterhouses.
“In order for local farms to compete, they need scale-appropriate regulations. It’s not realistic to ask a local farmer in Maine to drive hours to get to a USDA-inspected processing facility and turn a profit,” said Rep. Pingree, who has been an organic livestock farmer for nearly 40 years. “The PRIME Act will help change federal regulations to make it easier to process meat locally—helping farmers scale up and give consumers what they so clearly want.” Quote reference.
Passage of the PRIME Act opens doors for consumers who want to support local farms. And, it works to lower prices for local meats by providing options for farmers. After all, local, grassfed and pastured meats should be available to all Americans who want them, not just families who can afford the artificially higher prices or bulk purchase options.
In 1967 "Congress passed the Wholesome Meat Act, requiring producers to use a USDA-inspected facility if they sell meat across state lines. A mass consolidation of the meat industry followed. Today, commodity meat is dominated by large companies. Just four companies sell about 85% of America's beef and the pork and chicken markets are similarly controlled by huge corporations." (Bloomberg News)